Posted by: outandequal | October 27, 2012

Pat Baillie: On the Road To Equality– Reflections from the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference

Pat Baillie

Pat Baillie, Director of Training & Professional Development

The week before the Summit finds me on the road making my way to Baltimore. One of the stops along the way was in Chicago for the 2012 Society for HR Management (SHRM) Diversity & Inclusion Conference. I had been selected to present a workshop entitled “LGBT! Not just a U.S. issue anymore!” As I prepared for the conference, I received an email that was sent to all the presenters on talking to a foreign TV crew in the United States on a State Department media/journalism grant plan to produce a documentary on diversity—“Diversity and Tolerance in Democratic Society”—to air on Bosnia and Herzegovina public television during Fall 2012. The public television station is Radio Televizija Republike Srpske. I, of course, wrote back that I would be interested in talking with them.

I took some time to see what the laws were like in Bosnia and saw they were trying to join the European Union, so I knew they had to be working on LGBT protections in order to gain membership to the EU.  I also knew that there had been clashes at the end of the first day of the Queer Sarajevo Festival with injuries as the police allowed anti-LGBT protestors to interrupt the event.  I wasn’t sure what to expect during the interviews. The interview had been set up through the State Department so their liaison was there along with a two-person video team.  I talked with the young woman who conducted the interview about their trip and her impressions of the United States.  They had started in New York, but preferred the culture and vibe of Chicago better. We talked a bit about the workshop and Out & Equal, but the story that they wanted to know about was my story–when I came out… what my relationships were like… and what were some of the barriers I faced.  It was an easy discussion, and after telling her about some of the closets I had lived in due to U.S. policy, her reactions demonstrated support, and a desire to learn more.  I didn’t get a chance to talk about her experiences or sense of how it was for those who lived in Bosnia because I had to run off to another class I had to reach. The camera crew came in and filmed some of the course and stayed to listen to the concepts I was teaching about global LGBT issues.

I look forward to seeing the piece and hope it helps the discussion continue and grow in Bosnia!  So I am off to the OutServe conference to talk with active duty military members from around the world and then to Baltimore for the Summit!  The learning continues…

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